Manifest Destiny and the Commercial Conquest of the United States

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1 Manifest Destiny and the Cmmercial Cnquest f the United States Grade Level(s): 6-12 Subject Area(s) Language Arts - Reading and Writing, Civics, Gegraphy, U.S. Histry Estimated Time One t tw minute class perids Overview Manifest Destiny was an extremely pwerful idea in the 19th century United States. The essence f Manifest Destiny was that Nrth America was intended by Gd t be ppulated and gverned by Angl-Saxn Americans. This meant that the spread f U.S. demcracy and industry was part f the Divine plan. Of curse, there were ther peple n the Nrth American cntinent wh disagreed with this ntin. In this lessn, students will explre the idea f Manifest Destiny. Summary When histrian Tny Mares says that "the mercantile cnquest f what wuld becme the suthwestern part f the United States was the real cnquest," the implicatin is clear. The U.S. march t fulfill Manifest Destiny in western Nrth America was nt achieved by the military alne, but als by business peple wh explred what were then Mexican territries and served peple and markets that were being ignred by the far-away Mexican gvernment. In this activity, students will learn abut the cmmercial cnquest f this regin via readings and vide clips. Then the students will create their wn "cmmercial cnquest"! They will wrk in grups t write hypthetical cmmercials that culd have been made by U.S. entrepreneurs f the time t reach ut t their ptential Mexican custmers r by Mexican entrepreneurs encuraging the lcal ppulatin t Buy Mexican.. Objectives Students will: Learn abut the imprtance f cmmerce in the U.S. effrt t fulfill Manifest Destiny. Explre the ways that U.S. businessmen filled a gap in the marketplace that had been created by Mexic's neglect f its territries. Examine the ways that cmmerce and the military wrked tgether t cnquer western Nrth America fr the United States. Think abut the ways that U.S. businessmen had t reach ut t Mexican custmers t gain their trust. Apply sme f their knwledge in a fun activity where they will write cmmercials that culd have been made by the U.S. r Mexican entrepreneurs f the time. Materials Needed This activity can be cmpleted using a cmputer lab where students can access the vide clips and handuts themselves via "The U.S.-Mexican War" website. It can als be cnducted by using a ne classrm cmputer The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Page 1 f 6

2 with a prjectin device. In the secnd scenari, yu will need t prvide the students with the fllwing handuts: Cmmercial Cnquest wrksheet Manifest Destiny ( Vide Clips Library ( Interactive Timeline Map ( Vide clips used: The United States declares war n Mexic Kearney s army marches west t cnquer New Mexic and Califrnia American entrepreneurs and the mercantile cnquest f the Suthwest American settlers head west t seek prsperity in Califrnia Prcedure Pre-viewing Activity: Briefly review the previus activity by engaging students in a discussin abut it. Then ask students t cnsider hw they think Manifest Destiny actually became real fr the United States. After all, we knw that in the early 19th century, the U.S. did nt extend west f the Mississippi; nw, thugh, it reaches the Pacific Ocean and beynd. Hw d the students think this happened? Was it all a matter f military cnquests? Ask students t brainstrm sme ptential answers. Have the students read the article Manifest Destiny by Sam W. Haynes frm the U.S.-Mexican War site. Ask the students t discuss sme f the issues the article raises: the imprtance f technlgy in the U.S. spread t the Pacific: the cncern abut Britain and Mexic wrking tgether and keeping the U.S. frm gaining lands it wanted; the belief f many in Manifest Destiny. Fr additinal backgrund, yu can reference the ther excellent articles n Manifest Destiny n the U.S.- Mexican War site. Briefly g ver the questins n the Cmmercial Cnquest wrksheet with students befre they watch the vide clips: Why were New Mexic and Califrnia cnsidered s imprtant by the U.S. gvernment? Hw did the central Mexican gvernment treat its citizens in the utlying territries f New Mexic and Califrnia? What was U.S. President James Plk's attitude tward acquiring New Mexic and Califrnia frm the Mexican gvernment? Hw did the U.S. first gain influence in the territries f New Mexic and Califrnia? What was the main trade rute that the Americans used t reach New Mexic? What kinds f prducts did they sell t the peple wh lived in New Mexic? Mexic had invited U.S. settlers t cme t Texas and then ultimately lst cntrl f that territry t thse very same settlers. In the vides, there is discussin abut hw sme f the Mexicans in New The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Page 2 f 6

3 Mexic and Califrnia distrusted the new U.S. businessmen wh were cming t their territries. They may have feared that histry wuld repeat itself and the Americans wuld take their territries as well. What d yu think may have been sme strategies that the U.S. entrepreneurs used t reach ut t their ptential Mexican custmers? Viewing Activity: Tell students t g t The U.S.-Mexican War website t access the vide clips The United States declares war n Mexic, Kearney s army marches west t cnquer New Mexic and Califrnia, American entrepreneurs and the mercantile cnquest f the Suthwest, American settlers head west t seek prsperity in Califrnia (r display the vides with a prjectin device in yur classrm). Explain t students that the clips will give them sme insights int hw cmmerce and military pwer cmbined t help the U.S. ultimately gain the lands f New Mexic and Califrnia frm Mexic. Have students answer the questins n the Cmmercial Cnquest wrksheet after they have watched the vides. Pst-viewing Activity: G ver the cntent f the vides with the students, fcusing particularly n the subjects addressed in the wrksheet. Then read the previusly mentined qute frm histrian Tny Mares t the students: "The mercantile cnquest f what wuld becme the suthwestern part f the U.S. was the real cnquest." Ask students t discuss what they think that qute means and whether they believe it t be true. Remind students that technlgical advances like the steambat, railrad and the telegraph greatly helped with the U.S. mve westward. One technlgy nt invented yet was televisin. Hwever, in the fllwing activity, yu are ging t give the students the pprtunity t d sme time travel and bring TV back t the 19th century! Break the class int grups f 4-5 students each. Tell the students that they are t assume the rle f the mid- 19th century U.S. entrepreneurs trying t ply their wares t the Mexican settlers in New Mexic in a televisin cmmercial. Each grup will wrk tgether t: 1. Identify a prduct that real Mexican settlers wuld have been eager t buy. 2. Develp a sales pitch that will reach ut t ptential Mexican custmers wh, fr sme very gd reasns, may nt have trusted the new American settlers/businessmen. 3. Use the abve t write a 30-secnd TV cmmercial fr their prduct. 4. Create a 30-secnd TV cmmercial urging Mexican custmers t Buy Mexican instead f Buy American The students shuld have fun with this activity; encurage them t be creative with it while displaying their knwledge abut the tpic. When the students have written their cmmercial scripts, have them read and/r perfrm them fr their classmates. Have the students give each ther feedback n their wrk. Classrm Assessment T assess the students' wrk, cnsider the fllwing: Did the students shw an understanding f the cmmercial cnquest f America in their answers n the wrksheet? The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Page 3 f 6

4 Did the students shw an understanding f these issues during the classrm discussin? Did the students wrk well tgether in their grups? Did the students' scripts shw a grasp f the cntent? Did the students' scripts exhibit a creative apprach t the material? Extensins and Applicatins If yu have access t vide prductin equipment, fllw up n this activity by having the students videtape the scripts fr their cmmercials. Students culd als use the interactive timeline n the U.S.-Mexican War site t d map wrk n the Santa Fe Trail and/r t lk at the great distances between Mexic City and sme f Mexic's territries, particularly New Mexic and Califrnia. These great distances, and Mexic's relative neglect f its territries, gave U.S. entrepreneurs the pprtunity t get a cmmercial fthld in these areas. Anther pssibility is t have students use the timeline t d a ppulatin study f Califrnia and Texas in the secnd half f the 19th century. What percentage f the ttal U.S. ppulatin lived in these tw states in 1850? 1860? 1870? What des the data say abut the ppulatin shift in the U.S. during that time? What percentage f the U.S. ppulatin lived in these states accrding t the mst recent census (2000)? What des the minrity ppulatin f these states tell us abut what America might lk like in the cming years? Students culd als explre sme f the excellent related articles n the PBS site, "The West": Fr yunger students: This activity culd als be used by middle schl students with little adaptatin. They wuld certainly enjy the challenge f cming up with ideas fr a televisin cmmercial. Yu may need t simplify r mit sme f the questins n the wrksheet and/r answer the questins with the students as part f a classrm discussin. Natinal Standards McRel K-12 Standards Addressed: Language Arts Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies f the writing prcess. Standard 2: Uses the stylistic and rhetrical aspects f writing. Standard 3: Uses grammatical and mechanical cnventins in written cmpsitins. Standard 4: Gathers and uses infrmatin fr research purpses. Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies f the reading prcess. Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies fr different purpses. Civics The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Page 4 f 6

5 Standard 13: Understands the character f American plitical and scial cnflict and factrs that tend t prevent r lwer its intensity. Standard 14: Understands issues cncerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American plitical and scial life. Standard 23: Understands the impact f significant plitical and nnplitical develpments n the United States and ther natins. Gegraphy Standard 1: Understands the characteristics and uses f maps, glbes and ther gegraphic tls and technlgies. Standard 6: Understands that culture and experience influence peple's perceptins f places and regins. Standard 9: Understands the nature, distributin and migratin f human ppulatins n Earth's surface. Standard 12: Understands the patterns f human settlement and their causes. Standard 13: Understands the frces f cperatin and cnflict that shape the divisins f Earth's surface. U.S. Histry Standard 9: Understands the United States territrial expansin between 1801 and 1861, and hw it affected relatins with external pwers and Native Americans. Standard 11: Understands the extensin, restrictin and rerganizatin f plitical demcracy after Online Resurces Belw are the links fr sites referenced in this activity: The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Additinal readings n Manifest Destiny and the American trek westward The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Page 5 f 6

6 Cmmercial Cnquest Wrksheet Answer the fllwing questins after yu have watched the vides fr this activity. 1. Why were New Mexic and Califrnia cnsidered s imprtant by the U.S. gvernment? 2. Hw did the central Mexican gvernment treat its citizens in the utlying territries f New Mexic and Califrnia? 3. What was U.S. President James Plk's attitude tward acquiring New Mexic and Califrnia frm the Mexican gvernment? 4. Hw did the U.S. first gain influence in the territries f New Mexic and Califrnia? 5. What was the main trade rute that the Americans used t reach New Mexic? What kinds f prducts did they sell t the peple wh lived in New Mexic? 6. Mexic had invited U.S. settlers t cme t Texas and then ultimately lst cntrl f that territry t thse very same settlers. In the vides, there is discussin abut hw sme f the Mexicans in New Mexic and Califrnia distrusted the new U.S. peple wh were cming t their territries. They may have feared that histry wuld repeat itself and the Americans wuld take their territries as well. What d yu think may have been sme strategies that the U.S. entrepreneurs used t reach ut t their ptential Mexican custmers? The U.S.-Mexican War ( ) Page 6 f 6

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